The Fairy Tale Experience

children_puppet_theatreEach time I teach this class, the buzz in the room is palpable. Grownups are as unruly and as excited as little kids at a candy fest. They can hardly contain themselves. They’re so eager that they get impatient waiting for their time to speak and when it is their turn, they fall all over themselves trying to tell us just what those stories meant to them. Sometimes they talk about happy times, sometimes they tell what they lost or never had and sometimes they just go back there, right in front of your eyes, and become kids again. It never ceases to amaze me.

I have always known that the stories we heard or read as children hold a particular place in our lives. They did for me, and each time I ventured out and asked others I got the same response. There was something magical in those stories and those times. We all felt it. We didn’t know that it would end, that we’d lose those feelings and forget our beloved companions, that those stories would one day no longer matter. Back then emotions ran high. Our senses were sharper and we easily felt danger, fear and elation in roiling succession. Amazement was a constant companion. To learn the language of birds or wear seven-league boots was simply part of the landscape. We jumped off dining room tables expecting to be borne aloft. The marvelous was the everyday.

I set out to see for myself if that magic could be found again. A fool’s quest, perhaps. But I needed to know if I could go back there. And if I could, what would it look like.  The obvious question is ‘Can you get there from here?’ but the more important question is ‘Should I?’ What kind of trespass is it to cross that great divide between now and the time before childhood’s end?

That unholy mix of desire and trepidation filled me up in ways that seemed so familiar. Like Gerda in her search for Kay or Jack at the foot of the beanstalk I knew I had to go; I just wasn’t sure how. Maybe, those feelings were my first guide. I remember them, the taste of them when I first read those stories and having them now only made it seem that the land I was seeking was closer than I might believe. If I could align myself to them, the characters and the creatures I so adored, then they just might carry me through to the other side.

To be continued…